I didn’t play in the beta, so I’ve played very little of the game so far. In the same way that Blizzard tweeked some basic and seemingly inconsequential things about MMOs to make World of Warcraft such a playable experience I get the feeling that Starcraft II is going to change our assumptions about real time strategy games (RTSs).
Facebook integration: Given that I really just want to play Starcraft with the people that I played with back in college, what better way to connect than that other tool I have for managing my friends lists. It would be nice if I could only broadcast my SC II playing to a portion of my Facebook friends list, but I guess that is part of the evil of Real-ID.
Challenge mode: RTS puzzle mode to teach you the mechanics of the game that are necessary to survive a multi-player match.
Newb Zone: There is a sheltered mutli-player zone for newbies that I found quite comforting. I don’t think I even tried playing Dawn of War against random people on the internet, but I think having a newb friendly mode will get more people out there entering the match making service. This is really important, because no algorithm can match you against another newb if they aren’t any out there. The Newb Zone runs at a slower game speed and the entrance to your base is blocked by a boulder to give you some extra defense.
Build-order comparison: At the end of the game and in any saved replay, you can see a time-line of each player’s builder order.
Reveal the stubborn loser: Hate when someone has already lost so they decide to waste your time by hiding stray buildings across the whole map? In SC II if you destroy a person’s “Town Hall” and they don’t rebuild it, the locations of their remaining builds are revealed.